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A History Of The Flying Scotsman

A History Of The Flying Scotsman

18 January 2021  -  

Ah, the Flying Scotsman. We’re sure you’ve heard of it? It is, after all, one of the most famous locomotives in the world - up there with the greats like The Orient Express and good old Thomas the Tank Engine - but how much do you know about its early history and its subsequent WWII makeover? Read on to find out more about this magnificent steam engine. 

Where Did It All Begin?

Let’s go back a few years… all the way to the 1920s in Doncaster. The London and North Eastern Railway had just been formed, having been created by the Railways Act 1921, and the Flying Scotsman was their very first A1 class train (the most powerful type of locomotive used at the time). Designed by the British Railway Engineer, Sir Nigel Gresley, the Scotsman was first given the number 1472 in 1923 and took up the daily 10am route from London to Edinburgh, giving it the famous name. 

Within a few short years, the Flying Scotsman appeared at the British Empire Exhibition and quickly rose to become a household name. In 1928 the train underwent its very first refurb, and with the addition of a shiny new corridor - meaning crew could switch over without the train having to stop - the locomotive could now operate a non-stop service London to Edinburgh service, reducing travel time down to just eight hours. By 1934 it had broken a national record by reaching 100 miles per hour, making it the very first locomotive to reach such a speed in the UK. 


Repainting During WW2

During the Second World War, The F.S was given a sombre new look. Typically, pre-WWII, all LNER passenger locomotives were painted that lovely, vintage shade of apple green, but as was custom during the war, it received a makeover to comply with the blackout-blitz measures that helped deceive enemy aircrafts. It wasn’t until after the war that it ditched its defensive camouflage get up and switched from ‘wartime black’ back to classic green again. 


Who Owns The Flying Scotsman Now?

Over the next few decades, the locomotive changed ownership several times and got a few stamps in its passport after enjoying a couple of global jaunts during tours to the USA (1969) and Australia (1989). However by 2004 there was a crisis over ownership which resulted in the National Railway Museum spearheading a campaign to keep the beloved steam train in Britain. Thousands of people got on board (with the petition, not on the train!) which, thankfully resulted in multiple grants worth over £2 million being donated from the general public, the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund to keep this national treasure in the UK, and get it restored all shipshape and shiny once more. 


The Scotsman And The National Railway Museum 

Following the most expensive makeover ever; we’re talking over £4 million! This steam icon returned to the tracks in 2016 after a decade-long refurb to get it certified for moden use. These days it splits its time between making personal appearances at York’s National Railway Museum and hauling special passenger tours around the UK; making it the oldest working locomotive on British railway tracks!


Fancy seeing the world-famous steam engine for yourself? You’re in luck! Experience the golden age of steam during our special The Flying Scotsman Steam Train & Liverpool break this spring. The iconic locomotive will be running on the heritage East Lancashire Railway in April. Get ready to journey through the Irwell Valley in the company of the nation’s favourite train - it’s the perfect ticket for Flying Scotsman fans of all ages!


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